A trip down memory lane at BJ Holiday Lodge

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What is an “icon”?  Always difficult to define exactly, but can refer to something which has made a lasting mark on a culture.  With that definition, then the letters “BJ” are iconic in the Pattaya scene, with those who have long memories remembering Bill Jones whose bar gave birth to Soi BJ in Walking Street something like 41 years ago.

“BJ” with his trademark towel over his shoulder, then moved to the top end of Beach Road with his bar and restaurant, but six years ago with the redevelopment of the area for the Holiday Inn, moved around the corner into Soi 3 off Beach Road where he has established the BJ Holiday Lodge, and so making sure the icon lives on.

Still only 100 meters from the beach, BJ Holiday Lodge is a family business managed by his daughter Jenny Jones and his wife supervises the kitchen.  It is a very clean medium range hotel (rooms are only B. 1,200 per night).  The small restaurant/coffee shop is on the ground floor, with around 15 glass-topped tables and overlooks the soi.  A bar is along one side and at the rear is the entrance to the hotel lobby, where BJ has produced a wonderful pictorial record of the changes in Pattaya, with a series of “then and now” framed photographs.  Whilst our visit was to review the restaurant, a trip to the lobby to look at the photographs should be on your list too.  Old timers will enjoy the memories that the photos will provoke, and younger members will be amazed at the changes in our city.

On opening the menu, which has around 100 items, you will soon see that you have not sat down in an expensive restaurant – an American breakfast is B. 90, coffees B. 30, burgers and sandwiches B. 75-90, and Thai single dishes B. 60-120.  In the European items, soups are B. 45-60, salads B. 55-120, and main courses B. 150-320 with Cordon Bleu only B. 180.  There are also eight full set menus on the final page at B. 300-450 for those with enormous appetites.

House wines (white and red) are only B. 120 per glass, local beers B. 70-80 and cocktails are available.

I decided on the BJ fried chicken, with french-fries and stir-fried vegetables, whilst Madame selected the hamburger steak dish B. 180.  However, while waiting for our meals to be cooked we chatted with BJ himself who regaled us both of the amazing things from Pattaya’s past, and sampled a Don Julio 70th anniversary tequila.  Liquid dynamite with a smooth finish!  “Party starter and painkiller,” said BJ.

The sizes of the portions took us a little aback initially.  You will certainly not leave hungry from BJ Holiday Lodge.  The fried chicken had two complete chicken breasts, which were not dried out and were very satisfying.  Madame’s hamburger steak was a ‘ground’ steak and was again not dry and was very tender and a good flavor.  The french-fries were also properly cooked.

After our meals, neither of us had room for the offered desserts, so I cannot comment on those, but there are several on the menu!

BJ Holiday Lodge is providing good ‘home-style’ food in large portion sizes at very reasonable prices.  A range of soups at B. 45 is very inexpensive, and the vast majority of dishes are under B. 200.  The BJ fried chicken was only B. 160 and was more than I could eat – I also ascertained that the portion served to me was the standard amount.

Good simple fare and affordable prices were the lasting impressions from the review.  And if you want to chat to an icon, you’ll find BJ there most evenings.  He’s the chap in front of the TV with a towel over one shoulder and a brown dog at his feet.  His knowledge of Pattaya is encyclopedic and quite enthralling.  (He tells a joke or two as well!  You have been warned!)

BJ Holiday Lodge, Beach Road Soi 3 (100 meters up the soi on the right hand side), secure parking beneath the hotel, restaurant hours 7 a.m. until 12 midnight, reservations not required.

Tel: 038 488 572-3

E-mail: [email protected]